In Singapore for Surgery at Fortis – Another Bionic Experience | Grace Gawler

I am writing this blog from my hospital bed at Fortis Surgical Hospital in Singapore. Once again – a new bionic device awaits me in the operating theatre within the hour. I am really looking forward to receiving my Mark 111 version – apparently smaller and updated and quite the fashion accessory!!

I am writing this blog from my hospital bed at Fortis Surgical Hospital in Singapore. Once again – a new bionic device awaits me in the operating theatre within the hour. I am really looking forward to receiving my Mark 111 version – apparently smaller and updated and quite the fashion accessory!! Well not really as the device is implanted in my left buttock and attached to 4 tined very intelligent electrodes that are inserted into my lower spinal foramina.

awaiting surgery at Fortis surgical hospital Singapore
Me awaiting surgery at Fortis surgical hospital Singapore

It it is so wonderful to be here in Singapore with the skilful and compassionate surgeons who saved my life last time in January 2009 after the device had stopped suddenly 6 weeks prior. I wanted to write this blog because my experience touches on so many aspects of illness, healing, recovery and the ongoing tenacity it takes to survive the odds.

No one would welcome the experiences I have had since 1997 when after routine surgery I lost use of my colon…in particular my rectal function.  Years of diagnostic mayhem followed. The case in most doctors too hard basket – diagnostics took years to identify the problem. Today will be surgical procedure number 22!  10 ft of previously healthy colon removed – 5 ft small intestine + 5 ft large bowel One could wallow in the why me arenas or be begrudging of medicine and routine surgical procedures that don’t go as planned. However….

Life happens to us – but  it’s not what happens to us that makes a difference in life quality but what we choose to do when life has dealt us a band hand.  It is about how we choose to respond to uninvited change.

I have always been inspired by a quote from the writings of Robert Louis Stevenson who wrote:

“Life is like a card game – it’s not about being dealt a good hand – but how you play a bad hand well!”

Today I am filled with gratitude for all those who have helped me navigate this challenging treatment maze so far. Pip – my partner of 7 years has been amazing. My children – and now grandchildren who also give me a raison d’etre. Dr Schouten and  Dr Marijke Sleiker ten Hove in The Netherlands must be thanked for giving me back my life in 2002-2003. Dr Francis Seow Choen and Dr Lim Jit Fong have been and remain as amazing doctors and surgeons since 2009. Thanks to all who donated to our appeal to help me get this critically important surgery today- you are all heaven sent! I will let you know how this goes a wee bit later. The team is on their way.

Appreciate your day, your life and loved ones….Life’s good!! Until soon

Grace

Tips on How to Navigate the Carers Maze – Grace Gawler interviews Ellen Slater- Carers Qld.

Having been a sole care-giver at the age of 21 when my then boyfriend and later husband was suddenly diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer) I had an abrupt introduction into the world of the caregiver. When he underwent surgery for a full leg amputation – life became even more challenging. Carers are the backbone of most societies. Their task is often unnoticed and even unappreciated. Ellen Slater aims to change that – in fcat she has made it her life mission to provide care and teach self – care to caregivers.

Tips on How to Navigate the Carers MazeGrace Gawler interviews Ellen Slater- Carers Qld.

Having been a sole care-giver at the age of 21 when my then boyfriend and later husband was suddenly diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer) I had an abrupt introduction into the world of the caregiver. When he underwent surgery for a full leg amputation – life became even more challenging. Carers are the backbone of most societies. Their task is often unnoticed and even unappreciated. Ellen Slater aims to change that – in fcat she has made it her life mission to provide care  and teach self – care to caregivers.

Ellen Slater has had a life-time of personal care-giving & then chose a vocation in care-giving as well as a career as a family therapist and counselor.

Ellen Slater Carers Qld
Ellen Slater Carers Qld

 For 6 years Ellen has been Manager for Counseling, Family Support and Advocacy programs with Carers Queensland. Carers Australia is the peak body for carers. Carers Queensland is responsible for a National Carers Counseling Program (NCCP) which, Ellen has been privileged to manage. In Queensland the organization has 13 professional counseling staff, where they offer face to face counseling, telephone counseling & home visits. This is a state wide program. Ellen has recently resigned from her position at Carers Qld to follow her heart and passion into her next venture and adventure; Joyland Carers Retreat near Korora beach, Coffs Harbour in Northern NSW. www.joylandcarersretreat.com.au More about Ellen Slater on the Guest page.
CONTACT CARER’S QLD:  www.carersqld.asn.au

 

Listen to the audio interview – download on itunes for free and live streaming anytime.

http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/80607/how-to-navigate-the-carers-maze-grace-gawler-and-ellen-slater

About Ellen:
Ellen Slater Ellen has been a carer for most of her childhood, adolescence and adulthood. She has a Masters of Counseling & has completed clinical courses in Family Therapy and supervision, a Diploma of Ministry, a Bachelor of Counseling, & has now been accepted as a candidate for a PhD. She is a recipient of the “Golden Key”, University of New England-Armidale. Whilst studying and also caring for her late husband, she ran a successful private practice & support groups from home.

 Joyland Carers Retreat Coffs Harbour
Near Joyland Carers Retreat Coffs Harbour

She became Senior Counselor & Manager for Counseling & Advocacy-Carers Qld.

As a carer she was exhausted, isolated, angry; then later guilty & emotionally burnt out.

She dreamed of having a break & being alone for a while to find her-self. She was aware of others in similar situations; carers who needed respite & nurturing to regain their strength and courage to carry on.

Joyland Carer’s Retreat will open in Jan 2015; a self funded initiative that is now almost a reality www.joylandcarersretreat.com.au

Resources:Australia:

  1.  www.joylandcarersretreat.com.au
  2. http://www.carersaustralia.com.au/
  3. http://www.carersaustralia.com.au/about-carers/young-carers2/

USA:

  1. http://www.caregiver.com/
  2. http://www.helpguide.org/elder/caring_for_caregivers.htm
  3. https://www.caregiver.org/
  4. http://www.caregiveraction.org/

CLICK HERE  – TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW WITH ELLEN SLATER

Attention caregivers: Making use of helpful services – USA RESOURCES CONTINUED.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE HARVARD’S CAREGIVERS HANDBOOK

Being a caregiver for an ailing parent, spouse, child, or other loved one can feel like a lonely undertaking. But it doesn’t have to be, even if you don’t have family nearby to pitch in. Help for caregivers is available from various organizations. Once you learn what’s available, it may be easier to chart a less-demanding course toward meeting the needs of your spouse, relative, or friend.
Get your copy of Caregiver’s Handbook

Close to 49 million informal or family caregivers offer assistance of all sorts to adults in America. Their efforts are vital to the lives of people struggling with illness, disability, or the changes that often accompany aging. This report will assist you in meeting the needs of the person you care for while attending to your own. It includes financial, legal, and medical information that’s vital to caregivers, as well as a special section devoted to caring for yourself as you navigate caregiving challenges.

Here are some types of services and professionals you might want to investigate.
• Adult day services. These programs offer comprehensive packages of assistance, though what’s in the package varies from place to place. Services may include transportation, nursing care, meals, personal care (such as help with bathing or toilet use), social opportunities, or rehabilitative activities. Such facilities are immensely helpful if your loved one needs supervision or assistance with daily activities, health care, or social support for physical or cognitive impairments. Typically, adult day services are open during normal business hours. Some offer evening and weekend hours.
• Certified nurse’s aides. These trained aides can help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and personal care. Keep in mind that they are not nurses, and so can’t administer medications.
• Hired companions and homemakers. You may want to hire someone to help with meals, shopping, and laundry; supervise activity; and provide companionship and transportation. Some people may also be willing to help with personal care. An informal arrangement—such as a college student who lives in a home and provides help in exchange for rent—can work well.
• Home health aides. These aides perform personal services such as bathing and dressing, and may do light housekeeping.
• Meal programs. Hot, nutritious meals may be available through programs like the Meals on Wheels Association of America (703-548-5558, or www.mowaa.org) or the federally funded Eating Together Program, which offers lunch and companionship at community centers. Senior centers, community groups, or religious organizations may have similar services.
• Case managers. Some hospitals and health insurance plans assign case managers to oversee and coordinate health care. Case managers are often registered nurses or social workers. They help coordinate services, keep tabs on a patient’s progress, and communicate with the patient, caregiver, family, clinicians, and key departments, such as billing.
• Nurses. Nurses offer skilled nursing care, such as inserting intravenous lines, cleaning wounds, and changing bandages. They can also administer medications.
• Physical, occupational, or speech therapists. These trained professionals may do in-home therapy sessions.
• Respite care workers. Respite care workers provide caregivers with time off from their caregiving duties.

• Transportation services. Some communities offer free or low-cost transportation to medical appointments for seniors or people who are disabled. Other potential sources of free or low-cost transportation help are religious and community organizations, such as churches or synagogues, councils on aging, and senior centers.
The United Way (www.unitedway.org) and other national organizations may be able to refer you to services in your community, useful information, and assistance. For example, the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org) offers a 24-hour help line (800-272-3900) and support groups throughout the country. Some of its chapters also offer training programs, assistance with coordinating care, and other services.
Another good resource is a website sponsored by the National Health Information Center: www.healthfinder.gov. It can help you locate resources in your area. A local agency on aging, geriatric care manager, hospital case manager, or social worker can also advise you about local services and may be able to suggest ways to cover the costs.
For more on developing plans and effective strategies for the hard work of caregiving, buy Caregiver’s Handbook, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

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How to Safely Integrate Botanical Medicine into a Cancer Treatment & Prevention Program with Grace Gawler

Have you noticed how in recent times, ordinary foods have been re-invented and labelled as awesome super-foods. The awesome super-food brings with it a promise of health, vitality, longevity and prevention of every illness under the sun – especially cancer. And….it’s all natural! Well is it? First of all, vegetables and fruits we eat today are different from the foods our ancestors were eating.

Have you noticed how in recent times, ordinary foods have been re-invented and labelled as awesome super-foods. The awesome super-food brings with it a promise of health, vitality, longevity and  prevention of every illness under the sun – especially cancer. And….it’s all natural! Well is it? First of all, vegetables and fruits we eat today are different from the foods our ancestors were eating. They have been altered in their genetic material since the late 1800’s. Scientists and farmers have been genetically modifying food crops  through a process known as hybridization or selective plant breeding for a long time. This was the pre-biotechnology method of introducing genetic materials from one individual plant to another. The humble carrot was manipulated long before that!

carrots superfoodsA knowledge of history often helps to put things into perspective. Did you know that the Carrot we know of today was already tampered with in the 1700’s. They were bred orange in The Netherlands during the 17th century from the older white and purple stock (that are now back in fashion as “heritage” varieties) to show support for the Orange-Nassau dynasty. So provocative were orange carrots seen to be in the early modern period that, at various points, they were banned from sale in Dutch markets as the fortunes of the dynasty waxed and waned politically! Even in the the 1700’s vegetables were used to promote a cause! ( source The Conversation)

But – back to the 21st Century. In today’s hype for health there is one thing missing  in many of the self stylized Health Gurus – knowledge!

Food science is fascinating and complex and as technology increases- our understanding and knowledge builds.

Unfortunately promoters of the current “healing super-foods” are not  qualified in the science; nor are they qualified in botanical medicine. On today’s Navigating the Cancer Maze , I look at just one of the super-food groups – Cruciferous vegetables.  The phyto-chemicals contained in cruciferous vegetables, as well as macro and micro-nutrient content have caused a stir in cancer circles.

Based on my more than 3 decades of experience, research & qualifications with plant medicines & nutrition to help cancer patients; I would like to share with you some critical aspects for any cancer patient to know when using plant based medicines or super-foods for health; both during treatment and outside of treatment. Click here to listen to audio streaming Voice America

Many studies have highlighted reduction of cancer risk Health intelligence australiaby consuming macro-nutrients-carbs, proteins, fats, fibre and proteins. There are also specific nutrients contained in foods called micro-nutrients-what we know as vitamins, minerals & trace elements. However, plants contain many chemical substances other than micro-nutrients that may help prevent cancer; some are effective adjuncts in treating cancer- these are called phyto-chemicals.

There is a saying – “It’s not what you eat – but what you do with what you eat”. Almost every patient who visits my practice has already made lifestyle and dietary changes according to what they have read on Dr Google or in books obtained through Dr Google. Some have sought naturopathic advice. Most finish up on vegan diets with copious juices whilst taking plant nutrients in capsules or powders by the bucket load. This is not natural!  A few more helpful sayings: ” Less is more” and….. there is no one size fits all in healing- we are all different.”

One of the biggest digestive enemies of the cancer patient are the foods that do not breakdown well and create excess gas & pain and….often these foods don’t absorb well. You can be taking in lots of nutrient dense foods and supplements – but be malnourished. I see this in my practice constantly.  Excessive gas and inflammation from ingesting large quantities of raw greens along with a compromised digestive system can lead to many more health issues. Remember Cancer is disease that begins with inflammation that becomes chronic. Ideally we want to make life easier for our digestive systems – not more difficult.   I highly recommend you visit the following website:  http://www.puristat.com/bloating/anti-flatulence-diet-plan.aspx

Did you know that by overdoing ingestion of the cruciferious family by taking excessive green powders and juicing raw vegetables that absorb better if cooked – can lead to genotoxicity?  This is the term which describes the property of chemical agents that damage genetic information within a cell causing mutations, which may lead to cancer. Excess raw greens can also affect thyroid hormones and create Goiter. The principle applies  – Less is more!

So often in my practice I find that by changing the “healthy regimens” that patients are taking in order to recover, and replacing it with a well structured, personalized dietary regimen with steamed and cooked foods;  that bloating, due to excessive gas and inflammation, decreases or disappears. As does the debilitating pain that accompanies foods that don’t suit our metabolism. Patients with gastro- intestinal cancers can therefore reduce pain medication due to a sensible dietary change.

Another excellent resource for learning about Gut issues is the following website:  http://www.gutsense.org/

In tomorrow’s blog more resources and information about cruciferous vegetables and nutrition for cancer patients. See you then …
Grace

Game-changing Cancer Breakthrough Keytruda | New immunotherapy drug now FDA approved Grace Gawler

Because of the immune system’s extraordinary power, its capacity for memory, its exquisite specificity, and its central and universal role in human biology, these immunotherapy treatments have the potential to achieve complete, long-lasting remissions and cancer cures, with few or no side effects, and for any cancer patient, regardless of their cancer type. ( CRI )

The Immune System and Cancer Control: Exciting Developments in the USA and at QIMR Berghofer Brisbane Australia…..

Keytruda (pembrolizumab) is made by the drug company Merck. The drug belongs to a class of immunotherapies called checkpoint inhibitors. These drugs “take the brakes off” the immune response to cancer. They represent the most promising new cancer therapies to emerge in decades. Merck’s drug is the first FDA approved checkpoint inhibitor targeting a molecule called PD-1. Cancer-Immunotherapy-BreakthroughThe drug has been approved for the treatment of advanced or inoperable melanoma in patients who have failed prior treatment.

For 60 years, Cancer Research Institute (CRI) has been the pioneer in advancing this highly promising new class of treatment. Because of this investment, cancer immunotherapy today is a highly active and exciting field, with unprecedented potential to deliver on the decades-long promise of discovering, developing, and delivering safe and effective treatments that make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients fighting the disease. For those living in the USA – if you want more information about checkpoint inhibitors and immunotherapies.
To Join a webinar presented by Cancer Research Institute – Immunotherapy: The Future of Prostate Cancer is Here” with Dr Charles Drake MD PhD September 30, 2014 at 2 pm ( please remember – New York time!) CLICK HERE
Because of the immune system’s extraordinary power, its capacity for memory, its exquisite specificity, and its central and universal role in human biology, these immunotherapy treatments have the potential to achieve complete, long-lasting remissions and cancer cures, with few or no side effects, and for any cancer patient, regardless of their cancer type.( CRI)
 Please visit: www.cancerresearch.org for more more information about immunotherapy trials and treatments in USA.
Also visit:      http://www.theanswertocancer.org

In Queensland – Australia  – QIMR Berghofer Medical Institute Brisbane is dedicated to translating discoveries into treatments, diagnostics and prevention strategies.

LISTEN TO AUDIO QIMR berhofer QldListen to this interview with Sara-Jane who was a guest on Navigating the Cancer Maze Radio this week. Sara Jane is from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. She will speak about the Research Roadshow and other aspects of this research centre. Learn how you can get involved and benefit.

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To discover what is being researched  at QIMR  visit their website by CLICKING HERE: 

In Next blog:

More on the Research Roadshow at QIMR Berghofer and Record keeping – so important for any cancer patient. I look at some creative ways to keep your medical records in order.

Until next time

Grace

Grace Gawler|The story of a bionic woman in Global Health and Travel Magazine

Maya Angelou said: “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” Global Health and Travel Magazine recently published an edition (July-Aug 2014) featuring women who are exceptional survivors and who were not reduced by events out of their control! Grace Gawler speaks with Global health and Travel Magazine.

Maya Angelou said: “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

Global Health and Travel Magazine recently published an edition (July-Aug 2014) featuring women who are exceptional survivors and who were not reduced by events out of their control!

Women of Substance – Asia’s Leading Ladies in Healthcare – Female Patients and their success stories. The  July-August 2014
Global Health and Travel Magazine  features stories of 5 women who overcame the odds to survive and thrive.

Grace Gawler & Dr Francis Seow Choen
Grace Gawler & Dr Francis Seow Choen

I am honoured to be one of the 5 women they featured and it goes without saying that a Dutch surgeon, Dr Rudd Schouten ( 2002) and 2 Singaporean surgeons, Dr Francis Seow Choen and Dr Lim Jit Fong (2009), from Fortis Surgical Hospital, Singapore, were also major players.  A team effort for survival. I am forever grateful to them for humanity & surgical skill.

You will read how life sometimes throws us a curve ball…… just when everything appears to be going smoothly! Mine came in 1997 when my 21 marriage ended suddenly. Three days later, another blow; a total prolapse of my uterus changed my life direction even more. A surgical procedure aimed at repair and health restoration saw the unthinkable happen – Complications left me without bowel function. As you can imagine if you have ever been constipated for a few days…..the consequences were horrendous and over time, large sections of impacted colon had to be surgically removed.

This part of my story has also been recorded in my Memoirs Grace Grit and Gratitude.( pub 2008)  Copies available eBook, soft cover or Click here to read on Google books. This is a free read. Section 39 talks about my Bionic surgery.

I hope that the inclusion of my survival story in Global Health and Travel magazine, inspires others to take a chance and walk in the field of all possibilities.   In 2002 – 2003 I underwent experimental surgery ( InterStim Therapy) that would enable me to have another chance at Life! If you would like more information or to explore InterStim Therapy and if it is applicable to you –  Please contact me via the contact page on this blog.

To read the full story – Global Health and Travel can be purchased online as a Single Digital Issue or by yearly subscription. This is a high quality health information magazine for any person who is consciously making efforts to improve their health and wellbeing and who wants to be informed.

 Click here for sample or to purchase online subscription to

Grace Gawler GLOBAL HEALTH AND TRAVEL  JULY 2014

 

Global Health and Travel is worthy of a subscription. It is a premier resource on medical tourism as well as providing articles about general healthcare. The magazine focuses on services offered by internationally-accredited healthcare institutions typically sought by travellers including complex, specialized procedures such as joint replacement for hips and knees, cardiac surgery, fertility treatment and more. Combined with vibrant and informative stories on beauty, travel, health and wellbeing, Global Health and Travel is your reliable guide to healthcare abroad. The latest edition is a great read if you want to know more about immunology.

To read the story – Select below then enlarge text via magnifier.

Grace Gawler July-August 2014_Global Health and Travel_A Return to Normalcy_

 

Death | Discussing the ‘Elephant in the Living Room’ Beth O’Brien with Grace Gawler

There’s an elephant in the living room & no one mentions it; it is called death, the subject for today’s show. I work in a pro-life vocation with people with life challenging illness, but what happens when life is not prolonged & death is inevitable? How & where do you find the tools to help you navigate your way through the process? Learn more with Beth O’Brien on Voice America Navigating the Cancer Maze with Grace Gawler.

There’s an elephant in the living room & no one mentions it; it is called death, the subject for today’s show. I work in a pro-life vocation with people with life challenging illness, but what happens when life is not prolonged & death is inevitable? How & where do Death the elephantinthelivingroom2you find the tools to help you navigate your way through the process?

There are not only physical deaths that are relevant to today’s topic. There many “deaths”  throughout life – the losses that occur as a a part of being human; loss of youth, loss of job, loss of identity, to name a few.  But there are also overwhelming “deaths” throughout life – life’s big uninvited events that are felt so deeply that the grief seems endless and indeed may endure for life. These events are a apart of being human and shape the way we be on this planet.  The person grieving a physical death will often get more support than the person grieving a divorce experiencing hidden pain  or loss of a body part hidden from view by clothing. But grief, loss bereavement exists and it exists in many forms. Many patients have said to me that when their partner left them it felt worse than a death – that death was final – but it was challenging to accept the finality of an event when there was no physical death and the knowledge that every family event in future will have a “emotional stamp” on it!

Listen to my interview with Beth O’Brien:
http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/79672/death-discussing-the-elephant-in-the-living-room-beth-obrien-with-grace-gawler

Beth O'Brien
Beth O’Brien

So – the subject is huge and relevant! Following on from last week’s show, today I interview a lady who works with death every day; funeral celebrant, Beth O’Brien. Beth is a Certified Thanatologist; Certified in Thanatology: Death, Dying and Bereavement”, an international accreditation with the Association for Death Education and Counseling. She is also a qualified Facilitator of Death Café, an international movement designed to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives. Today’s discussion will be a valuable resource, bringing death to the discussion table.

After 20 years studying, researching and working with people who were experiencing loss and grief, Beth O’Brien discovered a strong connection to work with people who were experiencing grief and loss.

Recently she became a Certified Thanatologist, Certified in Thanatology: Death, Dying and Bereavement”; an international accreditation with The Association for Death Education and Counseling. In her work as a marriage and funeral celebrant she feels privileged to work with people on the most important and memorable days of their lives. Beth became so enthralled by the stories and eulogies she heard, she decided to become a personal historian and is a member of The Association of Personal Historians. Beth is a Death Café Facilitator, a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist®, Grief Educator & an Internationally Certified Funeral Celebrant/Trainer.

Resources to deepen your understanding of this important subject:

Beth O’Brien: 

http://seasonsofgrief.com.au/about-beth/

www.australiancelebrations.com.au

http://deathcafe.com/

Hopewell Hospice – Gold Coast    http://hopewell.org.au/

Recommended by Beth O’Brien: Doug Manning has been one of the most prominent speakers and authors in the grief counseling field since he started work in this area in 1982.

http://www.thecarecommunity.com/GriefSafePlace/tabid/59/Default.aspx

Other resources:

Caitlin Doughty

http://www.orderofthegooddeath.com/members/your-mortician

http://www.orderofthegooddeath.com/

Caleb Wilde – Confessions of a funeral director blog

http://www.calebwilde.com/

http://www.naturaldeathcentre.org.au/

http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/79672/death-discussing-the-elephant-in-the-living-room-beth-obrien-with-grace-gawler

Grace Gawler Navigating the Cancer Maze | The most important issue we can address – death; the great adventure

On Navigating the Cancer Maze – today – a discussion about death with Rev Dr. Ian Mavor and Dee Hanna from Hopewell hospice and Paradise Kids located on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Listen to or download interview at Voice America Navigating the Cancer Maze.

On Navigating the Cancer Maze – today – a discussion about death with Rev Dr.  Ian Mavor and Dee Hanna from Hopewell hospice and Paradise Kids located on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Listen to or download interview at Voice America Navigating the Cancer Maze

DEATH ADVENTURES: It would to nice to think that all cancer patients could find healing and recovery. I would like to share a recent experience that was a case of breathing life into death!  Prior to my recent visit to Germany, I had the pleasure of being invited one Saturday afternoon to a Death Cafe! I invited a guest and her family to attend with me. They were about to embark upon her journey into death. I will call Death Cafe navigating the cancer mazethis patient Lois. Lois had a highly aggressive brain tumor stage 4 glioblastoma multiforme – she was also a survivor of breast cancer 10 years prior. Following surgery and a recurrence soon after; Lois had successful treatment in Germany. However – she was not the same person that she and others knew, and this was tremendous source of distress to her. Like many patients with a brain tumor, Lois suffered from depersonalization (a state in which one’s thoughts and feelings seem unreal or not to belong to oneself). Medications and therapy did not assist. An intense episode of Shingles that lasted for 6 months followed by seizures and blindness in one eye and then a recurrence of the tumor, finally ‘tipped the scales’……Lois decided enough was enough!  She decided that she wanted to end the suffering and refused further treatment. Lois and her family gained a tremendous amount of information by attending a Death Cafe. Soon she was a patient at Hopewell Hospice and a few weeks later – she died peacefully at the Hospice surrounded by love with friends and family in a conducive atmosphere of candlelight and peace – one of the most well prepared death experiences that I have been privy to. There was openness and disclosure. Nothing was left unsaid nor undone as Lois took her final breath.

The mere mention of a Death Cafe is a definite conversation stopper! This is especially so when friends ask “What are you doing this weekend” and you reply you attending a Death Cafe function! Immediately people imagine a group of people resembling Abby from NCIS!  However – everyone who attended the Death Cafe dressed quite normally and there was not a ‘Goth fashion’ in sight! The format was a discussion by grief counselor Beth O’Brien and funeral director Neil Davis. They spoke openly about all the things death cafeyou likely thought that you would never want to know about death and yet; these are things that one should know. And  – with the room to capacity – it was amazing how the conversation became lively, questioning and engaging. People really wanted to ask more and more questions ….questions that are indeed relevant to us all.

Death is often ‘the elephant in the room that no one wants to discuss’. However it was good to see the topic on the table for discussion on ABC TV ( Australia) last night – so perhaps the Death Cafe is in deed making an impact in bringing death out of the closet.

What is The Death Cafe? It is a global movement where people come together in a relaxed and safe setting to discuss death. It’s not all doom and gloom. The organizers say that sometimes people need to understand death so they can live life to the full.

Have you ever been curious about the end of life experience? At Death Cafe a funeral director and celebrant will be at hand to help bury the taboos. Visit the website: http://www.distinguishabledays.com/2013/10/brisbanes-first-death-cafe/

Interview on Voice America’s Navigating the Cancer Maze:

Who is Rev. Dr Ian Mavor OAM, FACE  – Ian is a former Uniting Church Minister. Much of Ian’s professional life has been in Ian mavor on Navigating the Cancer Mazespecialist roles. Co-Founder and Executive Director Ian serves as Executive Director of Hopewell Hospice Services Inc which includes Hopewell Hospice, Paradise Kids, the Living Well Center and the Hopewell College of Transformative Education. He is a member of the Health Community Council-Gold Coast Health District and a member of the State Council of Palliative Care Queensland. In 2002, Ian was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) “For service to the community through a range of church, social welfare, education and health groups”.

http://www.hopewell.org

http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/79547/special-encore-presentation-navigating-the-cancer-maze-the-most-important-issue-we-can-address-death

Grace Gawler with Dee Hanna  Hopewell Hospice on navigating the cancer maze

Who is Deirdre Hanna
Dee is the Founder of Hopewell Hospice Services Inc. in 1993, which includes Hopewell Hospice, Paradise Kids Children’s Services, Hopewell Education Services and The Living Well Center.

http://hopewell.org.au/other-services

Recommended viewing: Last night’s segment on ABC TV 7.30 report:  Charter for people who are nearing end of life. View the video at the link below:

 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-01/push-to-put-end-of-life-plans-on-agenda/5642866?section=qld

DEATH CAFE: For exact location details and bookings for the Brisbane Death Cafe email:    director@australiancelebrations.com.au

We hope you have found this blog helpful to your life and purpose. Navigating the Cancer Maze is sponsored by the Grace Gawler Institute-  a not for profit registered health promotion charity located in Queensland Australia with a Global outreach  focusing on cancer and life education. www.gracegawlerinstitute.com

Navigating the Immune System | The Key to Future Cancer Therapies

Today on Voice America’s Navigating the Cancer Maze, I interview Professor Mark Smyth who is regarded as an international leader in tumour immunology, immunotherapy and natural killer (NK) cell biology. My co-host is Dr Bruce Whelan, GP.We are nk-cells-(green)-attack-diseased-human-cellsaware there is a great need for cancer education in the community. By understanding the intricacies of the immune system in parallel with the biological nature of cancer; we believe that patients will make better informed decisions regarding their choice of cancer treatment.

Prof Mark Smyth and Dr Bruce Whelan GP
Prof Mark Smyth and Dr Bruce Whelan GP

 

Today on Voice America’s Navigating the Cancer Maze, I interview Professor Mark Smyth who is regarded as an international leader in tumour immunology, immunotherapy and natural killer (NK) cell biology. My co-host is Dr Bruce Whelan, GP.

Episode Description

Today I interview Professor Mark Smyth who is regarded as an international leader in tumour immunology, immunotherapy and natural killer (NK) cell biology. My co-host is Dr Bruce Whelan, GP. Dr Whelan and I see cancer patients in our practices.

We are aware there is a great need for cancer education in the community. By understanding the intricacies of the immune system in parallel with the biological nature of cancer; we believe that patients will make better informed decisions regarding their choice of cancer treatmentProfessor Smyth is a person of influence who has made key discoveries in his field.

A number of those discoveries have led to new clinical trials in cancer immunotherapy. Professor Smyth relocated to the QIMR nk-cells-(green)-attack-diseased-human-cellsBerghofer in Brisbane (2013) as Senior Scientist and NH&MRC Australia Fellow.

He is a Senior Editor at Cancer Research, & a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Cancer Research Institute (USA).

Learn More:  www.qimrberghofer.edu.au

Professor Mark Smyth

Professor Mark Smyth  received his PhD from the University of Melbourne in 1988 & trained at the National Cancer Institute (USA) 1988-1992.

After 8 years at Austin Research Institute Melbourne, working on mechanisms of lymphocyte-mediated cytotoxicity, he relocated to Peter Macallum where his studies on effector molecules collectively rekindled world-wide interest in cancer immune surveillance. A number of his discoveries have led to new clinical trials in cancer immunotherapy.

Professor Smyth relocated to QIMR Berghofer, Brisbane (2013) as a Senior Scientist and NH&MRC Australia Fellow. He is a Senior Editor at Cancer Research, and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Cancer Research Institute (USA).

Summary

The Immunology in Cancer and Infection Laboratory currently focuses upon advancing our understanding of the basic principles underlying an immune response to cancer and infection.

A Natural Killer cell (yellow) attacks a cancer cell. The NK cell reaches out and delivers the “kiss of death.”
A Natural Killer cell (yellow) attacks a cancer cell.
The NK cell reaches out and delivers the “kiss of death.”

 We aim to further understand these processes at the molecular level, with particular emphasis on the role of the innate immune system, in particular, NK cells, NKT cells and gamma-delta T cells.

Our laboratory is building a detailed picture of how networks of immune cells function to recognise, respond to, and destroy tumour cell masses and metastases. We are interested in defining the importance, timing, and nature of the natural immune response to transformation.

We are also using new antigens (including glycolipids), antibodies, and cytokines in combination to stimulate strong innate and lasting adaptive immunity to cancer.

Our findings are being used to develop more effective biological and cellular therapies for human cancer, in particular, melanoma, breast and prostate cancer, and haematological cancers.

Learn more about Prof Smyth’s research

at http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/page/Lab/Immunology_Cancer_Infection

 

One of QIMR Berghofer’s three Research Programs is cancer, one of the major causes of illness and death in Australia and the developed world.   In 2012, it is estimated that more than 120,700 Australians were diagnosed with cancer (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer). Cancer accounted for about 3 in 10 deaths in Australia, making it the second most common cause of death, exceeded only by cardiovascular diseases. Cancer is a disease which is caused by abnormal cell growth and eventually spreads to other parts of the body. Some cancers are common within a family history and are clearly inherited, while others are caused by factors in the environment interacting with genetic susceptibilities. Many forms of cancer can be treated successfully if detected early.

Cancer types researched by QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute

  • Blood cancers (including leukaemia, lymphoma and myelomas)
  • Brain cancer (glioblastoma)
  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal (bowel) cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (endocrine cancer)
  • Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (nose and throat cancer)
  • Non-melanoma skin cancer (actinic solar keratosis, squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma)
  • Oesophageal cancer (including Barrett’s oesophagus)
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Stomach (gastric) cancer

Learn More:  www.qimrberghofer.edu.au Navigating the Cancer Maze is presented by the Grace Gawler Institute for Integrated Cancer Solutions, Gold Coast Australia. We are a not for profit health promotion charity.

Promising Results from World-First Brain Cancer Trials Professor Rajiv Khanna | Grace Gawler on Navigating The Cancer Maze

It is imperative that breakthroughs in cancer treatments are known to the world. Worldwide, there are an estimated 240,000 cases of brain and nervous system tumors diagnosed each year; GBM is the most common, and the most lethal of these tumors. People speak of the War on Cancer, but it is our bodies that are at war with cancer cells via our immune system and its responses. Utilizing the immune system principle, scientists at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Australia, have used immunotherapy to create a major breakthrough in the treatment of the brain cancer known as Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM).

Free informational cancer seminars Brisbane June 15 – 21 2014 Brisbane.

Click the link below to see other events presented by QIMR – for immunology week June 15 – 21 2014 Brisbane.

How your body can fight cancer Seminars

cancer-lambert_2469736bPromising Results from World-First Brain Cancer Trials Professor Rajiv Khanna Joins Grace Gawler on Navigating The Cancer Maze To Talk about a Brain Cancer breakthrough.

Phoenix, AZ — 06/13/2014 — Voice America Talk Radio Network, Internet broadcasting pioneer, producing and syndicating online audio and video, today announced that Professor Rajiv Khanna QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute Australia will join Grace Gawler host of Navigating the Cancer Maze program on the VoiceAmerica Health and Wellness Channel (http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2125/navigating-the-cancer-maze) Friday, June 13, 2014 at 12 noon Pacific Time.

NOTE: show goes live to air 5 am Brisbane Australia time Saturday 14 June 2014. Available streaming audio any time after 9 am this Saturday and available to download on itunes indefinitely.

It is imperative that breakthroughs in cancer treatments are known to the world. Worldwide, there are an estimated 240,000 cases of brain and nervous system tumors diagnosed each year; GBM is the most common, and the most lethal of these tumors. People speak of the War on Cancer, but it is our bodies that are at war with cancer cells via our immune system and its responses.  Utilizing the immune system principle, scientists at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Australia, have used immunotherapy to create a major breakthrough in the treatment of the brain cancer known as Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM). Study leader, Professor Rajiv Khanna, said most of the study participants lived much longer than the six-month prognosis normally given to a patient with recurrent GBM, and some patients showed no signs of disease progression. “It is early days, but this is exciting,” Professor Khanna said.

“Survival rates for this aggressive cancer have barely changed in decades. There is an urgent clinical need for new treatments. “If this treatment can buy patients more time, then that is a big step forward.”

GBM
Image of Brain GBM

GBM is the most common malignant brain cancer, diagnosed in about 800 Australians every year.  Despite surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, less than 10% of patients survive beyond five years. This study built on previous research which found that many brain tumours carry cytomegalovirus (CMV). About half of all Australians have the virus, but usually show no symptoms.

Professor Khanna developed a technique to modify the patients’ T-cells in the laboratory, effectively “train” them to attack the virus, and then return them to the patient’s body.  When the killer T-cells destroyed the virus, they also destroyed the cancer. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that immunotherapy – manipulating a person’s own immune system – is a rich new frontier for cancer treatment,” Professor Khanna said.

The QIMR is celebrating their research findings by hosting a series of immunology and cancer presentations between June 15 and June 21 in Brisbane. For those people who cannot attend, watch out on the websites for more information. www.qimrberghofer.edu.au   or  www.gracegawlermedia.com

The Phase I trials were conducted at Brisbane’s Wesley Hospital, under the leadership of neurosurgeon Professor David Walker.  “Working with patients with malignant brain tumors can be distressing, because we know so many will succumb,” Professor Walker said. “But this new branch of therapy lets us offer some hope that the future is going to be brighter, that new and innovative treatments mean things will hopefully improve in the future. “We have a long way to go, and there is hard work to be done, but we seem to be on the right track, and it is a pleasure to work with scientists at QIMR Berghofer to try to make a real difference.”

The research team is now keen to begin the next phase of trials, involving patients at an earlier stage of the cancer’s development. “These would be patients who have just been diagnosed and are about to start the standard treatments – surgery, then radiotherapy or chemotherapy.  We would generate the T cell therapy before their standard treatment, and then administer T cells in conjunction with the standard therapy,” Professor Khanna said.

“We hope that the treatment can be even more effective if given at an earlier stage of the disease.”

This study is published online in the prestigious US journal Cancer Research and can be viewed at http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/early/recent

The research was funded by Flagship Funding from the Rio Tinto Ride to Conquer Cancer, the NHMRC and private donors.

The QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute is a world leading translational research institute focused on cancer, infectious diseases, mental health and a range of complex diseases. Working in close collaboration with clinicians and other research institutes, our aim is to improve health by developing new diagnostics, better treatments and prevention strategies.

For more information about QIMR Berghofer Visit: www.qimrberghofer.edu.au

Immunology and Cancer Survival | Navigating the Cancer Maze| Grace Gawler

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute is hosting Immunotherapy week: Get updated about Immunotherapies. Next week QIMR presents a series of lectures about the latest developments in Cancer Immune therapies. QIMR’s Professor Khanna, has been researching immunotherapies and has had a major breakthrough in the treatment of the aggressive brain cancer Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM).

ATTENTION Queenslanders interested in immune-based Cancer Therapies:  Cancer Immunotherapy Week Brisbane

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute is hosting Immunotherapy week: Get updated about Immunotherapies. Next week QIMR presents a series of lectures about the latest developments in Cancer Immune therapies.

Scientists at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute have used immunotherapy to make a major breakthrough in the treatment of the aggressive brain cancer Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM). There will be a presentation on Tuesday evening and other presentations throughout the week.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

QIMR IMMUNOTHERAPY WEEK
Later this week on Navigating the Cancer Maze I will be interviewing…Professor Rajiv Khanna a leading researcher at The QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Australia; a world progressive translational research institute focused on cancer, infectious diseases, mental health and a range of complex diseases. Professor Khanna has been researching immunotherapies and has had a major breakthrough in the treatment of the aggressive brain cancer Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM). Professor Khanna developed a technique to modify the patients’ T-cells in the laboratory, effectively “train” them to attack the virus, and then return them to the patient’s body.  When the killer T-cells destroyed the virus, they also destroyed the cancer. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that immunotherapy – manipulating a person’s own immune system – is a rich new frontier for cancer treatment,” Professor Khanna said. Be informed about the answer to cancer. Support Immunotherapy week- Brisbane Qld. More info at http://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/

All shows are available in the content Library at Navigating the Cancer Maze on The VoiceAmerica Variety Channel for on-demand and pod cast download. The Grace Gawler Institute is a not for profit health promotion charity providing global access to free information for cancer patients about the latest in cancer information and treatments from experts, patients, caregivers and researchers.

Visit:  http://www.gracegawlerinstitute.com